tv Tavis Smiley WHUT October 24, 2011 8:30am-9:00am EDT
tavis: good evening. from los angeles, i am tavis smiley. although america has avoided a depression during these difficult times, there continues to be a link between the banking crisis back in 1929 and our current economic woes. a conversation about the start similarities and their impact on poor and working americans with journalist nomi prins. also, actor billy gardell is here. he brought his comedic sensibility is to one of the
best comedies. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard. it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is nationwide is on . >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television] tavis: nomi prins is a
journalist who is books include "it takes a pillage." glad to have you back and the program. >> thank you so much. tavis: the parallels are so profound, intentional i assume. or not intentional but timely. >> i think after the last book and seeing how economically devastated we really are since the financial crisis, we aren't marrd what happened in the great depression. there was a crash. -- we are mirroring what happened in the great depression. this crated a depression for the rest of the country. there is no other time that an similar to this time as unfortunately the great depression. tavis: why write this as a
historical novel? >> i wanted to find a way to bring the human side to it. as journalists, a lot of times we talk about the statistics and the data. i wanted to get back to fear is a character with a person through no fault of their own or desire to be a heroine comes upon a situation and it is hard and more difficult to do something about. i think that is something in all of us. i wanted to create that character that is a lot of people and look at the historical comparisons between the 1929 into the depression and what we have now. tavis: tell me more about the woman. >> she is an immigrant like so many of us are. she came from russia and she lived in a fifth floor walk up in the lowerast side and the
late 20's. she is trying to find herself. she comes up with a job at a diner and she comes into contact with the banker types that usually don't come to her neighborhood. they still don't come today. she very much just wants to make something out of herself and tries through her connection with a banker, looks at him as a person, not just as a person. she discovers a lot of shady things going on at the time. she also has a tradition towards our family and coming home and seeing the poverty on the streets and seeing the pushcart operators not able to sell their wares. she is trying to come to terms as a person. tavis: i had a chance to go through this. i don't think this story could not have been told is
wonderfully as you told it had the character not be female. do you agree? >> i thought that the element of heart was a very female quality. not that men don't have hard but there is a lot of bravado that comes with male characters. she was learning through ahead and following her heart. also a lot of literature tends to portray women as the flapper girls, those types of party girls. that was not what a lot of people were. they followed their heart, they had family problems. they had traditions that they were up holding. they were in a very volatile world. tavis: you did not live on a fifth floor flat on the lower east side but you did once worked in wall street. >> yes. tavis: what do you make of what is happening on wall street these days? what do you think about the
business that you used to work in? what do you make of what is happening now regarding the occupy wall street? >> i think the business particularly recently as we have seen has gone out of control. this has been unregulated. this has created situations and devastating the country. the shady ness has not been prosecuted, has not been brought to light. -- the shadiness has not been prosecuted. the people in those banks, i'm talking about the executives more than anyone else, the ones who really pulled the triggers. the one who approved the toxic things that came out of that mechanism, they feel so entitled about all of this. they feel that it was ok. it was their duty to receive government subsidies because they are pushing the whole economy of america. they are not.
they are pushing a very small and entitled agenda. that is not very different from 1929 when their practices were very shady and they brought in little people. it was very in the same -- it was very much the same way. octopi wall street, this is growing on wall street and across the nation. -- occupy wall street, this is growing. this is absolutely wrong, untamable, unsustainable. we have not seen any leadership change this. this will not come from wall street. they will not change themselves. what is happening with the occupy wall street is that there is an energy. a lot of the people are focusing on 25% unemployment that we have for the use of today. massive amounts of student loans which are given out at rates of 4%, 5% where banks kick rates
close to 0%. what is happening there is a groundswell. these are people who are saying that this is enough. you got bailed out, we got sold out. that is in every meeting of the slogan true. tavis: she discovers a lot in the book. might she be part of occupy wall street? >> i think that she would be. she did not start out to be a protester or a bitter but it is the right and wrong. when you see so much and you are aware of what is wrong and how it impacts so many people around you thatou are propelled it to act out. i think that she would definitely be down there. tavis: you were talking about these bankers and their sense of entitlement. put another way, to my mind at
least, there are some major over inflated egos on wall street. on the one hand, that is a real issue, their egos over inflated. on the other hand, i want to know to what level the people are implicit in helping those egos to become so bloated. given that they were going through the crisis, what democrats and republicans were saying, what george bush and obama were saying. if we don't save wall street, the whole country goes under. what responsibility do we have for blowing up those egos, for making them think that perhaps they are more important than they really are? >> we financed them to become more important than they are. we're not prosecuting the laws that they broke. we as the government on both sides of the aisle are not saying, wait a minute, you guys
committed fraud. you violated laws. after you did all of that, we paid you for it. this is not just in terms of your bonuses but this year continued solidity of your institutions. we made them bigger. if you are an institution like jpmorgan chase, then it was bear stearns. in march 2008, it was the absurd -- government subsidized. we are still paying for that deal. of course, the inflated ego of jamie dimon rose along with it. did the ego, 1st or did the entitlement come first when they rose in their position? i do not know what the conversation -- what the combination is. i know a lot of these men and i know that their egos are phenomenal. they really do think that they
are the american economy and a day are the financial system. they don't really care about the people on the ground outside their offices. tavis: if you have a historical novel "black tuesday" and there are some interesting parallels. i wonder in real life would part of the comparison, what part of the parallel most concerns you, especially now that we are on the press as a perhaps a double dip recession? >> what concerns me is how much today we are subsidizing the failure and fraudulent and criminal activities of wall street. back then, what happens that in 1933 -- it did take a while from the crash of 1929 to fdr elected to examine what the banks were doing. there was an examination. there was the at the that the government, this was run by a
republican treasury secretary under a democratic president. let us see what these guys are doing and create a loss from having them do it again. -- creating loss to keep them from doing it again. this has not happened. this is still unfolding into a greater depression. this is not being talked about in washington. it is -- they are keeping the notion that the recession happened, this is over in 2009, this means we don't have to deal with the fallout. we don't have to deal with the thank instructor. that is very scary. tavis: i think i hear you suggesting that it's worse before it gets better. >> yes, i think it will. tavis: this is a historical novel. it is called "black tuesday." >> thank you for having me. tavis: up next, "mike and molly"
star billy gardell. billy gardell stars on the popular sitcom "mike and molly." it garnered its biggest audience to date. the ratings were so huge on opening night. here is a scene from "mike and molly." >> if we have any shot of booking a nice place, we have to start now. >> ok. what are we looking for? >> a place to have our wedding. >> sure, we will need that. >> yes, otherwise we will get married at your mother's back yard and having a reception at the sizzler. >> sizzler? is that a real option? dressedou don't come sharper than the host.
>> c'mon, man. it is rented. i have to wear this when i come to the city. tavis: [laughter] first of all, congratulations. nice to meet you, first of all. congratulations on the success. the numbers on the first night back were huge. how does that feel? does it feel good? is there pressure? you have 14 million viewers on the first night. >> all of that. i feel very blessed with the aids and the parents i have. -- age and appearance that i have. there's someone for everyone in our show. that is the theme of our show. i am very proud of that. tavis: let me start with what you said, you feel very blessed
to have the success at this point. what do you mean by that? >> i am a grown man. it is good to have success. there is an attitude of gratitude on the said both for my self and 4, melissa mccarthy and -- and for melissa mccarthy. the rest of our cast and our peripheral players. there is an attitude of professionalism and people who have been through it long enough that we know it is special. that comes across when we do the shows. tavis: you made a joking reference to seriously your size. how is that helping or hindering? >> it is amazing to me that markeob rrts, we will getob a 30
guy to be a romanticad that is huge. i always thought michael as a step was to give a show. when you are a big guy in hollywood you are the buddy or the bad guy. that is like your whole deal. when this came along and i got a chance to audition and they called me and said, you are going to be the guy. i was like, wow, that is a phone call that you dream about that you don't think would happen. tavis: you think part of the reason it is resonating so much is that it is clear that there's somebody for everyone in this world. >> exactly. mark roberts, when he created this show, the idea that when
his people met at an overeaters place is just the beginning of the relationship. the true story is about two people falling in love who thought they would never fall in love. people root for that. if you can't do that, you are dead. they are trying to get a little healthier. the true hot mass surrounds them. they are the two most together people around them. you have a borderline alcoholic mother. on the other side, if you have a phone rang,t is bad news. you have a sister out of control. my best friend and real life on the show -- in real life and on the show, who doesn't want to get this done? if you don't with -- if you don't identify with mike
and molly, you identify with another character. tavis: how was your stand-up career going, how was it moving along? >> slowly. [laughter] tavis: before the tv show. "it was good. i was a good headliner in the clubs. -- >> it was good. i was a good headliner in the clubs. i would fill rims 250 seats. the rest of the week would be like 85 people, 65 people depending on where i was at. tavis: and now? >> it is amazing. 20% are people who knew me from my stand up. the rest are mike and molly fans. the last place i worked in vegas was a lounge with 68 people that one a coupon to come see me to
get the mind of the fact that they had just lost their kids' college fund. they would come in and people actually wanted to see the show. tavis: what is your comedic wheel house when you are on stage? >> i come from a very working- class place in pittsburgh, pennsylvania. if you try to tease me about my team i would say, i know. you know what is really wrong? do you want to open this can of worms? everything is from my roots. all of the people that i looked up to like richard pryor, bill hicks, george carlin. they wrote what was permitting through their life and their opinions. i thought what a brilliant way to keep your act afloat. my act has gone from crazy in my youth to becoming a husband and a father and trying to be an
example for my child. this is rooted in blue-collar common-sense. when i say blue-collar, i don't mean on a tractor. this is the notch paper newspaper guys. -- lunch pail newspaper guys. tavis: how much of your success has to do with the "mike and molly," but given the kind of comedy that you do which is in that john there where people are catching hell. >> melissas i aeaerchnd i'm a cop. those are two working class type of jobs. what happens is that my stand-up is rooted in working class all so. got lucky for the show that i got on matched up with the humor that i told. tavis: this was like roseanne
barr back in the day. wasike bob's agate, he squeaky clean on the show. tavis: we see how funny you are on the show but how does your comedy work its way into the show? >> i think all of those years working and learning how to tell the jokes. the beautiful part is how the show is well constructed in the writer's room. there is always some tenderness or a real moment. i have had real moments with everyone in the cast where you have to have an awkward dance or confess to something that you are scared of. when a laugh comes after that, it comes kwai says chart. what i've learned from my cast and director is to take that moment and be vulnerable.
-- when a laugh comes after that, it comes twice as hard. tavis: have you been a big guy most of your life? >> yes. tavis: were you treated poorly by the kids back then and now you are a success? >> i was always the big do that the party. -- dude at the party. some fat kids get pushed around and some of the one that did to roll around with everyone. i was that one. tavis: you are engage now. >> yes, i am penn to action last year, we got engaged. this year, we will be planning the wedding. -- yes, i am. last year, we got engaged.
they keep us in the dark. this keeps us on a real time schedule. we are just worried about that week. they believe in small stories as we go. we don't really know what is going. tavis: you have a genius on your >> i love him.les.er i canno say enough about him. this is literally like playing for a hall of fame coach. he has more knowledge about how to be funny then i will ever know. the thing about jimmy is that he is a real director in the way that he does not tell you how to read the line, he tells you what the intention behind the line should be. he will give you little directions. if you just pick the coffee up when i say that. you do it in front of the audience and they are screaming at you. how did he know that? he just knows.
the real thing about him is his demeanor. he is a great coach. he expects you to do good but when he complement's you, this is like your chest puffs up twice as high. i saw what i did. he resonates a confidence and a calm that everyone reflects. the ship is always calm. tavis: when this show first came on, the waters for rough initially. there were people who were taking shots, making fat jokes. >> i went on "to the view" and they ask me about it. i sesend them a cake. everyone will have their own opinion. you have to have your own outlook. if more people like you then
don't like you, ng out with those people. tavis: i like that. >> go where you are loved. tavis: billy gardell, "mike and molly" is the show. thank you for watching and as always, ke the faith. >> i can't get over it. my best friend is getting married. about a year ago your whining and crying. you're sitting in your apartment, one hand down a bag of doritos, the other one in your pants. >> for more information on today's show, visit tavis smiley at pbs.org. tavis: hi, i'm tavis smiley. join me next time for a conversation with jill abramson and olympic icon john carlos. >> every community has a martin luther king boulevard.
it's the cornerstone we all know. it's not just a street or boulevard, but a place where walmart stands together with your community to make every day better. >> nationwide insurance supports tavis smiley. with every question and every answer, nationwide insurance is proud to join tavis in working to improve financial literacy and remove obstacles to economic empowerment one conversation at a time. nationwide is on your side. >> and by contributions to your pbs station from viewers like you. thank you. [captioning made possible by kcet public television]